Podcast: Aneesh Raman: Finding the Thread

In today’s episode, I sit down with Aneesh Raman to explore the future of education and work. Join us as we discuss navigating career pivots, redefining success, and empowering the next generation.  Whether you’re a parent guiding your child’s educational path or an individual navigating career choices, this episode offers practical wisdom and encouragement to pursue lifelong learning and fulfill your potential. Tune in!

TRANSCRIPT

Aneesh Raman: 

I think that is becoming the new way to think about careers. No matter where you go to college, your 20s are really skill discovery, like what is the stuff that differentiates you that you like doing that you actually want to keep learning and mastering and bettering long after you’ve gone to college. So for me, that was explanatory storytelling, then once the expertise you want to have, for me became economic opportunity. And there’s no set path to finding that a lot of it is kind of everyday feeling what you feel what your gut says and what the universe is opening up as an opportunity. And then ultimately, what impact do you want, like no matter what you believe what faith you have, we all have one life as this person in this place. And the thing that matters most in terms of stories is our story of self.

Sheila Akbar: 

Oh my goodness, people. Welcome back to the podcast. I am so excited about this week’s episode, it’s with my old friend and Nish Rahman, who has done a whole host of interesting things across his life. And we know each other from college. And it has been amazing to watch his career, and to learn from him in terms of how to pivot, how to think about what’s next, and how to inspire other people along the way. So not going to take up too much more time saying anything about Aneesh, we’ll just jump right into the conversation. Aneesh, thank you so much for joining me today. I’m so excited about this conversation. Thanks for having me. So, you know, I mentioned in my introduction, how we kind of know each other. But let’s have you tell us what you do now and the short version of how you got there. Yeah, so I I’m a VP at LinkedIn part of my job is to be our workforce expert. So that means looking at all of our interesting data, real time granular view of the labor market, all the big changes, hitting work AI, the biggest right now, and thinking about what all of it means for individuals, organizations and societies as we think about where economies are going and where work is going. Now, as part of that, I also head up what’s called the Opportunity Project. So where we see big opportunities with our data, to build a more equitable, and efficient and transparent world of work. I then work to build coalitions with leaders across sectors and around the world to try and change how people access opportunity through the labor market. So it’s both what’s happening. And then what can we do about it to lead a more equal world of work? So sounds like a pretty small, easy job you could do in your sleep.

Aneesh Raman: 

Yeah, it lives in my head, I sometimes do talks and people are like, Oh, you’re so energizing. This is great. And I’m like, Well, you just get me for a bit, I have to live with me a lot, because it’s really big topic that just is constantly ruminating in my head. Yeah, well, I love it, I couldn’t think of a better person to be tackling these sorts of things and thinking about them on a daily basis. So let’s back up to how you decided to go to Harvard, where we met, and kind of your career trajectory from from that point forward. I think like a lot of us who you know, are from non white communities, or immigrant kids that ended up at Harvard, a lot of the rationale was similar. You know, for our parents, obviously, education mattered most and the best education was determined by the highest pedigree institution. And then I think for immigrant kids, and a lot of historically marginalized groups. Generally, there’s the need to get a badge that you feel good about opening up doors to opportunity so that you have more control over where your life and career will go. So there’s some mix of that that led me to Harvard, I grew up very much a believer in American exceptionalism, because to me, it made my parents sacrifice to come to this land. Make sense. And so that led me to want to do as many things as I could in America, I knew as a brown kid, I could never be president, but I thought maybe I could be around our politics. And early on. I’m a big believer that sort of skills build before passion. Early on, I just started communicating as like a skill. I started doing stuff for our local cable access channel, and like middle school, and as often happens, like that started to differentiate me. And the more it did, the more I got into it, the more I got into it, the better I got at it. And so by the time I showed up at Harvard, I knew first i want this credential of having gone to Harvard, but to I’m going to leave here and go become a White House correspondent, a TV reporter. And so it really shaped then what I did at Harvard, because I was there partly to be at Harvard, but also to look beyond Harvard, and to build inroads into a vocational craft, which is not something that Harvard really does. It’s all meant to be sort of non vocational.

Sheila Akbar: 

Right so after college, I remember you went work for CNN, is that right?

Aneesh Raman: 

Yeah, I did a Fulbright was like the first thing to just go overseas. I kind of had decided the the way to become a White House correspondent was either to go to local news and rise up or go be a foreign correspondent and come back. And I wanted to make my bed on being a foreign correspondent. So I did a Fulbright to India just to understand what it would be to live elsewhere and reconcile some of the existential like roots stuff, and then went to CNN and I started in Atlanta, and I was on the assignment desk, which meant just managing the news coverage. And I was overnight. I mean, I was always I think as an immigrant kid especially, I never doubted that I was gonna have to work my way up from zero everywhere that I was always going to have to be the hardest worker the always say yes, the prove myself even having graduated Harvard, I never assumed that meant anything to anyone. And so I showed up and was like freelance overnight Assignment Editor largely doing the weekend overnights because no one wanted them. And I just like executed executed very, you know, clearly made everyone aware where I wanted to go. The Iraq war happens. So I get put on that as like the major assignment editor assigned thing. The oh four election starts, I start doing my own reporting. And then you know, building that in the system. And so then my impatience of where it was going was becoming clear to my bosses, which is generally how my career can sometimes move. And then we had an opening in Bangkok, the reporter had been there for decades was leaving, and it wasn’t considered necessarily this, like really big beat. So it was like, here’s a cub reporter, why don’t you go there. And within a matter of months, the tsunami hit really big story. Suddenly, I’m on, you know, all hours of the day on all of our networks. And then, in TV, especially, there’s a currency that depletes over time, like if you did a big story, you go on to the next big story, or people forgot that you did that. And so very quickly, I then shifted to wanting to go into Iraq. At that point, the war was continuing unraveling the big name reporters were getting tired of going back in more and more networks needed people to go live there, who’s gonna go live in a warzone, young, unmarried reporters like me. And so then I went in there for about a year, year and a half, which was gnarly. And all sorts of ways you’d assume we’re reporting would be and when I realized it was affecting my mental health, I said, I kind of want to come out of the war zone. And so then I was in Cairo covering the Middle East, largely going into Iran. And that was all pre then Obama starting to win primaries in like three or up ending.

Sheila Akbar: 

Right. And then you worked for the Obama White House. Tell us about that a little bit.

Aneesh Raman: 

Well said the fallout actually for your, for your listeners, this will be really important. So I’m going to take everyone back to like the fall and winter of 2007. So there’s me sitting in Cairo, this kid who used to have some of our friends say how jealous they were at my certainty of who I wanted to be, who was becoming everything that I had set out to be a foreign correspondent, well, on his way to being a White House correspondent, who then was starting to have doubts about whether that was what he still wanted to be. Because at that time, cable news especially was turning into more punditry, there was less true journalism, and more just analyst opinion. And so it was a really tough moment. Because I had put all of my bets on this career path that I could tell was not something I was going to feel good about over time. And I was lost, do I go to law school to go to law school, do I go to business school to go to business school, like I had no idea what to do. And then January 2008, hits, and this guy, Barack Obama wins Iowa. And to go back to the origin story, as someone who never believed someone who wasn’t white could ever really achieve much in American politics level in the presidency, it was so intriguing that he was up ending that assumption. And then what was building was really this movement of change. That started to be, you know, hypnotic for me. And so at some point, come May 2008, I had no job lined up in the Obama campaign, I knew very few people who were associated with it. At the time, they didn’t have like a great relationship with reporters. So coming from being a reporter wasn’t some like obvious benefit. reporters at the time understood that if you leave, you can never come back, even though that’s changed. So the risk was exceptionally high. I was in everyone’s mind if I contemplated leaving definitively ending a career that I’d spent my whole life building to go to a place where I knew no one. And yet, it was both the riskiest and easiest decision, because I just knew, I live a lot in terms of risk mitigation. If I didn’t do this forever, I’d be like, Oh, my gosh, I should have done that. And so I just left CNN and I showed up at Obama headquarters in Chicago, and became an unpaid intern who had to like beg his way in on the weekends with doughnuts to the security guard, and just showed up every day until I could find a job and it took a month or two. And then I became a speechwriter for the whoever was going to be vice presidential nominee, and then it became Biden. And that became the beginnings of speech writing as this new skill set.

Sheila Akbar: 

I have never heard you tell that story before that ah, so that’s amazing. And you’re right. I think there is so much in here for for my listeners, because I think we, I mean, I definitely had that moment, I wasn’t exactly in 2007. But had that moment where everything I thought I had been working for it just felt wrong, and really unsure of where to go to next. But then there’s some, another guest of mine called it the whispers. There’s some whisper that tells you this is what you should do next, and you have so much certainty about it. And that feeling is so amazing. And also so scary. But it takes you you know, in the right direction, so I’m glad you listen to it.

Aneesh Raman: 

When it comes, I think we’ll circle Yeah, because then, you know, I go to Treasury, I become a speechwriter in the midst of a financial crisis, knowing very little about the complexity of the financial system now having to explain it to the world as we were trying to arrest the crisis then to the Pentagon, but ultimately to the White House working for President Obama writing speeches. When I left CNN, I had no idea would he win? If he hadn’t, what was I going to do come November 2008, I had no idea if he won what job I would get. I had no idea if he won that I could get a job working for him, which having left this sort of job I left at the level I left it was kind of what everyone expected to happen. And so there was a lot of just pushing through with humility, that work understanding your point, the whispers out there that this is going to work out as long as I stay true to some fundamentals. And then from there went into tech work for Governor Newsom. Now at LinkedIn. My career makes no sense by job title. But now as I look back, I understand from the start, I knew I could communicate in a way that differentiated me and that has stayed true in every job. I’ve had explanatory storytelling with an aim of like mobilizing people to ACT and think different. Over time, I built that out to include coalition building, like I don’t just like to tell stories, I like to tell stories that get you to want to be part of what I’m doing. And then we get others to be part of it. And I’d say around the Obama years into the tech years, I really started to lock in on economic opportunity as the issue I wanted to sort of pledge lifelong fidelity to here was the issue I wanted to take on. And I think that is becoming the new way to think about careers. No matter where you go to college. Your 20s are really skill discovery, like what is the stuff that differentiates you that you like doing that you actually want to keep learning and mastering and bettering long after you’ve gone to college. So for me, that was explanatory storytelling, then once the expertise you want to have, for me became economic opportunity. And there’s no set path to finding that a lot of it is kind of everyday feeling what you feel what your gut says and what the universe is opening up as an opportunity. And then ultimately, what impact do you want, like, no matter what you believe what faith you have, we all have one life as this person in this place. And the thing that matters most in terms of stories is our story of self. And really knowing that we are self defining who we are based on self worth. And that took me till last year, I mean, I just gone through a whole bunch of work to get definitional by myself, not relative definition. But when you do that, it just opens up a whole better way to be human and to live life. And you start thinking about what do you want to do with this life. And it might be that what matters most is the way that you parent, the way that your spouse the way that you show up in your community. And that whatever it is, apply your skills and expertise to that. And then you’ll just keep growing and learning and the whispers become your universe. It just becomes this reality you live in.

Sheila Akbar: 

I love that so much. I got some goosebumps here, Aneesh, because that’s, I mean, you’re living the dream, right. And I think you just gave us such a nice framework for that. And it takes work. And it’s not something that you can just hand to somebody else. You have to live it, you have to reflect you have to be connected to your experience, and be open to changing things and taking some calculated risks, right? And no degree is going to guarantee you success when you approach life that way, right. So I want to pivot a little bit and talk, I guess a little bit more about the things that you’re currently working on at LinkedIn now. Both in terms of education and economic opportunity. So a lot of the things that I’ve read that you’ve put out recently are around the advent of AI, how shaken things up and how there’s some really good things that can come of this. So share with us a little bit of your vision of of what’s going to happen as AI becomes more common in the workplace.

Aneesh Raman: 

First, I want to look back because I feel like a lot of the futurism I do, I like to anchor it on economic anthropology, because it’s really important. We understand the world we live in now, and then have that context to think about what’s coming. So great book, everyone should read it called sapiens. It’s a brief history of humankind. And it goes through how we’ve advanced to be the apex species. Some of that is tool development. That’s generally how we’ve understood humans from fire to AI being apex. But a lot of it is storytelling, our ability to organize ourselves around intersubjectivity. The nation state is a story the monetary order is a story, every college and what that degree signifies is a story that we just all buy into. But part of what that book does is it really helps us understand the history of work. So for 10s of 1000s of years. Humans lived in an agriculture economy, a goods economy first, agriculture, physical ability was the everything. And then it became manufacturing. And suddenly, like we needed new skills and High School in the early 1900s becomes this thing. People should go to high school and they should graduate high school because our shift from agriculture to manufacturing is opening up a need for new skills. And so that’s like the majority of human history in terms of work. For most of that work was wildly inefficient and unequal, you inherited work from your parents. And like, there was no real opportunity for you to think differently about what you could do. Now, for only a couple of generations or, you know, a couple of decades, we’ve had this knowledge economy, where really, our intellectual acumen has come to the center. And that really pushed us to think of college and especially CS degrees as the ticket to mobility, stability, all of it not incorrectly, because that’s how the economy sort of oriented itself. And over that time, as a society, we said more and more higher ed up the mechanism of mobility, we want this to be a place where anyone from anywhere can do anything to get to anything, if people can get through higher ed, that’ll open up their ability to do anything. But a bunch of challenges have hit that model, the cost of college has gone up, the durability of degrees has gone down. It’s just it’s proving really difficult for that to be how we have mobility or how individuals even think about their life and their career. And now enters AI. And there’s a New York Times Op Ed, I did in February, that folks can go to learn more about the thinking here. But what AI is coming for in terms of the tasks that can do is largely the tasks that have underpin the knowledge economy. So one statistic in there 96% of a software engineers job in terms of the tasks they do are ready to be done by AI, if not already done by AI, doesn’t mean software engineers are going to go away. But the fundamentals of that job are going to shift to be more about communicating philosophy majors who bring ethical thinking to the build of technology than just coding. And this can having implications if you then go back to the systems of education around opportunity, including higher ed in the way we’ve under invested in the humanities and over invested in science, all for the right reasons, in large part, even though you know, I think it overcorrected a bit. But if you think about durable human skills, how are we going to stay competitive to AI, it’s going to be critical thinking critical listening, empathy, communication, collaboration, how we work with others mattering as much or more than what work we do, how we’re able to influence others mattering much more than how we’re able to just come up with a project. So that’s going to fundamentally change how we teach and train how we hire and promote how we invest in in scale businesses. And so I think we’re in this really interesting hard moment, especially if your listeners, because I’ll end with the idea that it makes sense that nothing makes sense right now. And you have to just sort of embrace that because we are living at once, at the end of an old era of our economy and at the beginning of a new era. And traditionally, we have moved more methodically and more slowly from one era to the next. But the adoption of AI has meant that we’re living both at once. And so if you just concede that it makes sense that nothing makes sense. The only thing that matters in all the unknowns, there’s a Nobel Prize winner said predictions are hard, especially about the future, the only thing I can guarantee you is that the ability for humans at individual and organizational level to adapt is going to be the everything, which means the most important skill is learn how to learn, unlearn, relearn, wherever you go, they won’t matter what bad you have, based on the degree it will be whether or not you can show that you know how to learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Sheila Akbar: 

I love that. And I think you’re such a great ambassador for that message. Because even though you know, as you said, maybe your career directory doesn’t make sense. If you look at the title, there is a thread, you’ve really always embraced that pivot. Right, and been able to apply your skills and passions in a different a totally different context. And I think that’s what we’re talking about here. Right? And the thing that is interesting for me to think about and in you think about this far more often than than I do. So I want to hear your thoughts is that employers, particularly employers are on the cutting edge of, you know, productivity and impact and training up people are thinking about this for sure. Right? How do we train people skill them up, move people around, even so that their strengths are showing up in the places we need them as the nature of our work is changing? What I’m interested in hearing you talk about is how is this all going to trickle back down to education, because actually, education needs to be preparing young people way ahead of the curve for what’s coming. Right. And, you know, the educational institutions we have are very slow to change. So talk to us about that.

Aneesh Raman: 

Yeah, I mean, I think part of what is exciting but also unsettling about this moment of change is how much it will up end systems almost all at once. And the reason is that the labor market everything around economic opportunities, so the systems of education unemployment and entrepreneurship are pretty fixed structures, they’ve been around for a very long time. And they have been supported by entrenched beliefs and behaviors by the humans who operate within those systems. And so everything was working as it was meant to work for all the good and bad of it until kind of now. And everyone’s starting to realize that the way it works can’t be how it works. But we’ve never really dealt with a systems level shift like like, AI is gonna force us to do part of that, I think, for education and for your listeners, it’s really important for everyone to answer this themselves. Part of my deep dive into philosophy recently has been Roman stoicism. Seneca has his line, the Empire to conquer is the Empire within, don’t look to society to tell you, why we educate and how first start with your answer. as parents and as an applicant, what is education to you? Why are you going to learn? And then how are you going to learn? And in this country, I think we have generally struggled with why we educate. At times we think it’s for employability, but then we worry that education is just hitting people up to work at companies. So we pull back and say, No, it’s this sort of general liberal arts, you know, concept of just being a good citizen. But then we struggle with who gets access to that? And who doesn’t? And then what that even means for employability with who does. So I think the most important thing is we ought to answer why we want to learn why we think system should educate. And I don’t know that there’s one answer for everyone. I mean, again, if you sort of said earlier, I’m living the dream, I can say yes to that, because I know I’m living my dream, because I’ve done the work to know what it is that I want with this life. And so that gives me that competence. And I think similarly, is all your listeners walked down this like stressful path of higher ed, don’t start from what you think is the answer, really do the work to come up with your answer. And you’ll be remarkably and pleasantly surprised that when you get to that place, you’ll suddenly have options that you didn’t otherwise, because you’re thinking about it in a way where there are always more than one way to go, to get to where you want to go. And what’s great about humans in how we adapt is you can always start over the pivot can always come and so nothing is ever fully riding on one moment. I think educational institutions will be on a spectrum. So I don’t think you’ll see like the system itself all is once move, I think you’re seeing certain higher ed institutions try to show work, try to show that they can, especially the community college level, like really anchor better with where work is going, I think what you’ll start to see is that higher ed won’t be defined as one thing, but different types of higher ed will have more clearly defined differentiated definitions. And I think that’s a good thing. Because right now, we’ve been living in a world where the elite IV institutions sort of define higher ed for all, and it creates this in group out group dynamic that isn’t matched against the reality of what at least on the employment side, people need. And so I think, a sort of more nuanced view of what is education and where do I go to get the education I want is coming. And I think that’ll be really healthy.

Sheila Akbar: 

You know, before I hit record here, we were talking a little bit about economic freedom, and the things that might lead to that and the systems that might need to be addressed, revised, critiqued, to enable that.

Aneesh Raman: 

Well, you know, that term, I think, is is worth us explaining to because I don’t think we say economic freedom as much as we say economic opportunity, economic mobility, and I use it deliberately. And the reason I do is because Martin Luther King Jr. gave me a masterclass in the midst of the Black Lives movement, when I saw a video of an interview he did with NBC News, it was to commemorate the March on Washington, which was the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. And he was asked like, what he thinks of that March. Now, at that time, what do you thinks about the movement overall, and King has turned at that point, cynical, this is 10 months before he’s killed, in part because Vietnam has become the focus of the country. And it isn’t just about the attention. It’s about the money that the country has to invest into Vietnam. And the reason that’s affected his view is that integrating society didn’t cost America anything, you just had to pass a law. And you could argue for a lot of business owners, that meant more people coming to your shop, it actually was a net positive. But investing in under invested in communities, costs money. And that’s the interview where he

Sheila Akbar: 

The the system of capitalism has so much to do says it’s a cruel just to tell a bootless man to lift himself up with why we don’t take risks when it comes to pursuing by his bootstraps. And that was the beginnings of me realizing careers that maybe really do suit us. But we feel okay, I owe that people are only as free as they have the earnings and something to my parents. I need to make X amount of money to savings and ability to build wealth alongside the legal make it in this world. I need to have a certain amount of status rights and protections and really focus me on economic for whatever reason, right? And not that any of those are bad opportunity as the impact area I wanted. reasons, we just we all have different ones. But when the economic pressures are on, like you said, when you don’t have savings, wealth, the ability to create wealth, you don’t have equal access to those things, you have to make much more conservative decisions. And some things are just off the table. Right? I think about my, my dad, who was a doctor, allowed him to emigrate to the United States, he never wanted to be a doctor, he actually wanted to be an airplane pilot. But his father was like, No, that’s not gonna help us. So you need to go and become a doctor. And, you know, think about that all the time. Because I was at one point on the path of becoming a doctor. And I was like, I don’t want to do this. And thank goodness, they didn’t force me to do it. And I didn’t feel forced, because I didn’t have that economic burden, resting on my shoulders, right. So I think that these things are so intertwined, it’s so important to address and I think to take it back to education, you mentioned, community colleges are in a position to actually really shake things up about around the way that they educate students and prepare them for the world. And, you know, in several states, the first two years of community college are free. In California, where we both live going to a community college is actually a really, really great value, because you have a virtually guaranteed transfer into one of the best public university systems on the planet. And so I think, you know, people really need to check their egos around the brand of college they are so obsessed with and actually start to think about the value and the economic freedom, even in as simple terms as what kind of college debt are you taking on?

Aneesh Raman: 

Well, that’s why I’ve been a big proponent of like, if you think about the movements we’ve had, freedom is the oldest in for our species measured by democracies, then climate measured by sort of carbon neutrality. And I think this third one is building around economic freedom. But one of the things it’s hard is like, how do you get to one measurement, but I do think it’s something around wealth, because the importance of wealth, and we miss this a lot in financial literacy, that doesn’t happen in financial education. We talk a lot about earnings, but like your earnings only matter against your spend, and what’s left is your savings and your ability to then save more invest more build wealth. And so I think for everyone who’s thinking about college, first, if you’re, if you’re restless around the brand, really see that as work to do for yourself about why is that happening? What is it about you or your kids that you’re allowing to be relative worth based, so that you need them, and you need you to be of that brand. Because you can just decide that doesn’t matter. That’s not something that’s an objective reality you’re dealing with, that’s an internal subjective focus area. So do that work to unwind it, and then also really do the math. Because with everything changing in terms of work, no one can predict for you the durability of that degree on the upside. But you can cost out the impact of that degree on the downside in terms of debt. And we all know people who went for all the right reasons to get that degree in order to have the upside stability of income. But the burden of that debt became either crushing or totally determinative in terms of what they were able to do later in life or not do in terms of living the life and doing the work they most wanted to do. And I think that’s something that is a healthy conversation we’re having in the country in terms of really bringing that cost analysis. And I also think everyone should feel blessed to be alive at a time when work itself is being remade. Because I think that that’s going to give for everyone willing to see it and willing to work for it tremendous new opportunity to pivot in ways that were never possible before. So I really think if you let yourself see it, see yourself getting unstuck, and see your kids going into a labor market that will help them be unstuck. And just think of what that means for all the potential that we’re about to tap of humans.

Sheila Akbar: 

I love it. I’ll leave you with one last question here Aneesh because most of my audience is parents. And because I know the cultures that we you and I have come from, and I know the very difficult conversations I have had to have with my parents about my career choices. I’m curious what your parents have thought about all of your choices, and what it is you do now, have you been able to sort of educate them and bring them along with you? Or have they always been sort of like my parents? What the heck is my kid doing? I don’t even understand.

Aneesh Raman: 

You know, the thing I think they always believed is that I knew what I was doing, even if they didn’t and that I was going to give my everything to what I was doing, even if they didn’t understand where it was going. And I haven’t talked to them about exactly like how that came to be. But I think I was just so focused so early. And often success comes from really not great places. So largely impostor syndrome of being like a brown kid and largely white community. You know, insecurity about, okay, my sense of self will be defined by success. So now I need to keep succeeding in order to be the person I am. Because if I’m not that I hadn’t done the work to figure out who then I was. So generally this happens. And so, you know, it usually comes from that kind of place when you’re that driven, but I was so driven so early that they just assumed, okay, he’s on it. And so they always backed what I was doing, including when I left to join the Obama campaign, which was probably the proudest moment for me, of them backing it, because that was a financial, every risk was associated with that in terms of what I was like leaving behind. And so I think for parents, it’s really, it’s you and your kid, ultimately. And your job is to help this kid, you want to be there for them in ways that will help them be them be there for themselves as they get older. And that means your role is really about self worth, self love, emotional regulation, all these toolkits that exist underneath all the other stuff that then builds, and then really understand, so you can help them understand that there isn’t some moment of education that ends when you graduate college, college exists within an entire lifetime, an entire career, where there’s going to be this constant rate of learning. And so if you see it as a chapter, and not even a middle chapter, let alone the final chapter in sort of their growth, I think you’ll think about it differently. And then really, it’s how do you help them find the place that will help them be there for themselves best. And so some of that is about the curriculum, but some of it is about big school, small school some about is the burden of debt that will exist or not the type of people that will be around, but it gets harder and harder over time to really rewrite story of self. Because then all the things you’ve outsourced to others to define for you become so locked in the choices you’ve made, and the person you are, it’s really, really hard to rewrite that. And so the biggest sort of opportunity parents have is to support their kids in this journey. And as they start sort of their adult life, to really control their own story. And that’s a critical piece to the energy that his parents you bring to this process for them, do not let them think this is existential, do not let them think this is going to determine everything about who they are, help them understand this is just an environment, they’ll go into better understand who they are on their terms.

Sheila Akbar: 

And it takes me back to something else that you said, when I said, Oh, you’re living the dream. You’re like, Yeah, I’m living my dream. And your dream became clear to you as you pursued it. Right? You thought it was one thing, and it kind of changed a little bit, but you’re still, you know, connected to that original dream. And I think that’s, you know, another way of saying what you’re saying here is to help your kid define success for themselves and help them develop the skills to pursue it. Because yeah, that dream is going to change that definition is going to change. But, you know, learning how to learn to pursue anything, is kind of well, you said the new Harvard degree, right?

Aneesh Raman: 

Yeah, I mean, I think back to before we had all this distractions we have as humans, if you go back to like the early civilizations, a lot of humans had a lot of time thinking about what it is to be human. And they didn’t have the sort of neuroscience datasets, we have. Now to understand the brain mechanisms, which is still really early, we don’t know how creativity hits, we don’t know how inspiration hits. But a lot of that early philosophy talks about this paradox of control, that there’s only two things you can really control as a human in this world. One is your character, kind of who you are in the world. And we sort of outsource that generally to theology to tell us not just where we go after we die, but who we should be when we’re alive. And I feel like we can all answer who we should be when we’re alive, you know, in a shared way across all theology, and then how do you deal with things you can’t control, which is like 99% of what your lived experience is going to be like. And I think that’s really where as parents, we want to help our kids understand what they can control is who they are. And the lifelong process of understanding that that unique, special person that only exists as them and then how they respond to things they can’t control. And in terms of finding opportunity, that is always going to be growth, mindset, ability to learn unlearn, relearn, a humility and wanting feedback and excitement in actioning it because you’re driven by purpose of some kind, we know enough to kind of know what the answer is there. And so we don’t need to overcomplicate it. And we just need to help our kids kind of do better. I just think the more that we help kids have this more enlightened view of who they should be over time. They will be better parents, they will be better spouses, we will have better societies. We will just progress the species if we can get this bit right.

Sheila Akbar: 

Well, I think that’s a great place to leave it, Aneesh. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Aneesh Raman: 

Thanks for having me.

Sheila Akbar: 

Oh, what a great conversation and you can check the show notes for where you can learn more about Aneesh and the kinds of things that he’s talking about the writing that he’s done, because he’s definitely a voice to follow it In the space of you know the future of work, and also how education needs to meet that challenge. Before I sign off here, I want to put in a plug for a talk that I’m giving next week on what really matters in selective college admissions. Now, this is a question I get most of all from parents, they feel like they know what matters. And then they hear about this or that student who did or did not get in. And it just throws their understanding of this process into a tailspin. And it is a very confusing process. It’s a little bit mysterious. So what I really want to do is pull back the curtain help you understand what colleges actually say and what they look at on college applications, to try to select students for their incoming classes, and help you understand the approach that I take and that my team takes in trying to help students solidify their academic foundations, build an understanding of their own personal values, and then approach the process with confidence and clarity about what their priorities for their education are, and what their broader goals beyond college are. So if that sounds interesting to you, please check the show notes for a link to register for the totally free webinar, which is the 21st at 5pm. Eastern, if you can’t make the time, Please RSVP anyway because we will have a really great recording for you. So I hope you check that out. And as always, I hope you come back for more next week. Thanks so much. Bye, everybody.

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